Protein Shakes, Benefits, Side Effects, Weight Loss, Recipes, Reviews and Facts

Protein shakes are a form of dietary supplement, meant to help people add large amounts of protein to their diet in a very quick and easy fashion. Protein shakes are a liquid mixture of protein and carbohydrates. They provide athletic and avid exercisers with a fast and easy post-workout protein supplement.

Protein is one of the body's main building blocks for muscle, bone, skin, and other tissues. Proteins are the building blocks of life. The body needs protein to repair and maintain itself. In short, we can't do anything without protein. Every cell of the human body contains protein in their structure. It is present in the skin, hair, nails, teeth, muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and organs of the body.

There is no doubt that protein is an essential nutrient for the overall development of your muscles, bones, and even skin. However, when it comes to boosting your personal physical performance and losing weight naturally, protein shakes are much preferable by athletes, exercisers as well as health admirers who do not receive adequate amounts of protein from their own diets. In fact, according to Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (2010), consuming a protein shake just before exercises can increase calories that you tend to burn throughout the day after a workout. Clinically, after consumption, proteins are broken down into individual amino acids by the digestive system, which later play a vital role in making suitable proteins in cells.

Protein shakes can be purchased as a powder and mixed with water, milk, or soy milk. Protein shakes can also be purchased in a ready-made form. Used often by exercises, protein shakes come in many combinations of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. They can range from 100% protein to mostly carbohydrates with a little added protein and fat. Protein shakes come in a variety of flavors in powder form or in ready-to-drink packages, such as cans or foil packs.

Protein Shakes Benefits

Three-quarters of the solid material in the human body is composed of protein. The body uses protein to produce all its muscles and other tissues, including organ tissue, and to generate enzymes, hormones, immune system components, nucleic acids and cellular messengers.

A study published in a 2004 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise found that Marines who drank a 100-calorie recovery shake with just 40 calories (10 grams) of protein experienced enhanced deposition of muscle protein – in other words retained more protein as lean muscle mass. What's more the study found these marines had 83% less medical visits from heat exhaustion, 37% less from joint and muscle complaints, 28% less from viral and bacterial infections and 33% less medical visits overall.

To summarize, protein shakes offer several benefits, foremost among them:

  • muscle repair / preventing muscle breakdown

  • lean muscle mass growth

  • strength building

  • increased endurance

  • improved immune system function

  • more bioavailability of protein than from solid food

  • larger protein quantity per volume than solid food

Furthermore, protein shakes can help people prevent the reverse of these benefits from occurring – muscle damage and breakdown, weakness, tiredness, excessive appetite – caused by not having enough protein in their system following a resistance training workout.

Lastly, protein shakes are convenient. It's far easier to carry a protein shake packet around with you than a slab of meat. And if you're short on time, drinking down a protein shake is a lot quicker and easier than eating a meal on the go.

Protein Shakes For Weight Loss?

The fact is that there is yet to be any scientific evidence to prove that protein shakes can really assist you with weight loss. However, both protein shake manufacturers and consumers both attest to the possibility that protein shake may help you lose those unwanted pounds. This is not surprising since protein is essential for building muscle mass. As you probably know, developing muscles can greatly contribute to your weight loss because muscles help you burn calories, even while you are at rest. Unfortunately, today's modern foods make you more susceptible to a diet that's low in protein but high in carbs and fats. Such a diet will not only increase your body fat, but will also inhibit muscle build-up.

How to Use Protein Shakes for Weight Loss

If you wish to try protein shakes in order to lose weight, then chances are you will have to drink your shake in place of two meals every day. This is easier if you eat six small meals a day. The best time to drink protein shakes is in the morning. Instead of starting the day with a fattening breakfast of pancakes and greasy bacon, get your day off to a good start with a protein shake instead. After workouts is another good time to drink a protein shake.

Just because you are consuming protein shakes doesn't mean that you can do without other sources of protein in your diet. Protein, just like any other nutrient, is best consumed by your body when it comes from whole foods. Examples of foods that are rich in protein are eggs, poultry, fish, milk, lamb, beef, yogurt, cheese, soy, tofu and more. In fact, if your diet already contains sufficient protein-rich foods, then you don't need to take protein shakes at all. It's also important to remember that protein shakes alone will not help you lose weight. You still need to get plenty of regular exercise and watch what you eat. Make sure you avoid fattening foods like sweets, fast foods and sugar-loaded drinks.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

Almost all people can get the protein they need from whole foods and drinks in their diet. The recommended daily intake of protein for healthy adults is 0.75 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, or about 45 to 56 g of protein a day.

In most cases, only those who are active and restrict calories or are strict vegetarians are at risk for low protein.

People who exercise regularly do need more energy. They may also need a little more protein than people who are less active. Adding protein doesn't add muscle mass, though, as many people believe.

The ISSN recommends that exercisers get 1.4 to 2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. How much you need depends on the type and intensity of your exercise, the quality of the protein you eat, and your energy level and carbohydrate intake.

This is what the ISSN recommends:

  • For enduring exercise: 1 to 1.6 g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily, depending on intensity and duration of exercise and the training status.

  • For enduring exercise to gain strength: 1.6 to 2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily.

Types of Protein Shakes

Each of the following protein sources contains a different combination of essential and non-essential amino acids, and since different proteins in the body are formed from different amino acid chains, this means that each protein source is better for producing different types of protein in the body.


Whey is a complete protein derived from milk that possesses all the essential amino acids as well as the highest branched-chain amino acid content that can be found in nature. It boasts the quickest rate of digestion and absorption of any other protein source, producing peak levels of amino acids in the bloodstream, important because amino acid levels in the blood regulate the synthesis of muscle protein.


Casein is the main protein in milk, comprising 80% of milk's protein content, whey comprising the other 20%. Also containing a thorough supply of amino acids, casein is a slower protein to process and synthesize, which means that it's not as good for instant muscle repair but is excellent for long-term protection against muscle breakdown. For this reason, protein shakes that combine whey and casein give you the best of both worlds.


One of the primary reasons people use soy protein in their shakes is if they have an allergy or sensitivity to whey or casein. Another is if they're vegan or simply prefer a non-animal protein source. Derived from soybeans, soy protein has many of the essential and non-essential amino acids, but not all of them. So it would be technically inaccurate to call soy protein a "complete protein". In general, soy protein is not as quickly or easily digested and absorbed as whey or casein, lending to some people considering it an inferior protein source. There is widespread debate, as well, about whether or not soy protein contributes to increased estrogen levels or estrogen-like effects in the body, which are counterproductive to the testosterone the body needs for strength training.


Egg protein is one of the most expensive forms of protein and therefore not as frequently seen as a prime component of protein shakes. As it comes from the egg whites it doesn't contain any of the fat or cholesterol associated with eggs. It also lacks any carbohydrates. Egg protein is an extremely bioavailable form of protein that for most people is easy, if not the fastest, to digest. It has an amino acid profile that's even more complete than whey, however not as proportionately high. Of the protein sources mentioned, egg albumen makes one of the best sources for those using protein shakes as a meal replacement.

Other Ingredients In Protein Shake Powders

Leaving out what other ingredients one might toss into their personal protein shake, like a banana or yogurt, or whether they use milk, juice or water as the liquid, protein shake powders themselves contain certain other ingredients as well.

First and foremost, most protein shakes contain some amount and variety of amino acids, as they are the building blocks of protein. Of all the amino acids, among the most revered for post workout purposes are the following:

  • creatine – provides a bevy of benefits, not least of which is massive increase in muscle size and strength

  • glutamine – at the same time the body's most abundant and most rapidly depleted amino acid, beneficial not just for building muscle but also for boosting the immune system,

  • branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) – namely leucine, ioleucine and valine, which support muscular growth and improve endurance

Protein shakes also frequently contain a carbohydrate source to replenish glycogen, the fuel the body utilizes during a workout. As mentioned earlier, the carbohydrates in protein shakes are usually responsible for the immediate energy lift protein shakes are reputed to provide. Most protein shakes contain approximately 5 grams of carbohydrates and about 20-25 grams of protein per scoop.

Protein shakes typically contain added vitamins and minerals for supplemental nourishment as well. Some even contain blue-green algae or other "superfoods" for that same purpose. Many protein shakes also contain acidophilus and other bacteria beneficial for digesting all the ingredients in the shake.

Protein Shakes Side Effects

Assuming that you're consuming a normal amount of protein and are otherwise healthy and normal, supplements will not have any unwanted side effects. Protein supplements are not a complete dietary replacement. Excessive consumption of protein can have unwanted side effects in the kidney and liver.

Side Effects of Too Much Protein

Protein powder intake depends on a number of factors like age, weight and the amount of physical activity a person undertakes. So, it is always recommended to consult a nutritionist, before including it in your diet, as when taken in wrong quantities, it can produce many side effects.

  • Deficiency of Calcium -- Consumption of excess protein powder turns the blood acidic in nature. In order to neutralize this, the bones in the body release calcium into the blood. The calcium reduces the acids in the blood and makes it basic again. However, in this whole process, the body loses out on a lot of calcium. Diseases, such as osteoporosis, can be caused due to deficiency of calcium.

  • Malfunctioning of Kidneys -- As mentioned above, taking protein powder in excess, releases calcium in the blood. This calcium gets deposited in the kidneys and results in kidney malfunction, and may sometimes leads to the formation of kidney stones too. The body may develop ketosis. Ketosis is a condition of chronic starvation caused in the human body, due to lack of carbohydrates. Ketosis can be very detrimental to the kidneys.

  • Effect on Liver -- Consumption of protein powder in excess can be very damaging for the liver. This is due to the fact that the liver in the human body has a limited capacity to assimilate proteins. When protein powder is consumed in excess, the liver is pressurized to a great extent, while assimilating the excess proteins.

  • Allergic Reaction -- One of the side effects of whey protein powder is that it may trigger an allergic reaction in people who have a lactose intolerance. This is due to the fact that whey protein powder is made from milk, and one of the principal contents of milk is lactose. So, consuming whey protein powder can cause allergy in some people. That is why people prefer rice protein powder instead of whey protein, as rice protein powder does not cause an allergic reaction. The reason for this is that rice protein powder is not made from milk. Another option is to go in for whey protein isolate instead, as it consists of only one percent concentration of lactose.

  • Gastrointestinal Problems -- Such problems are primarily caused due to the soy protein powder. An excess consumption of soy protein powder can cause flatulence, indigestion and bloating.

  • Ketosis -- Ketosis is a state wherein the body experiences chronic starvation. Researches have shown that excess protein, taken by way of protein powders, can cause this condition, affecting the kidneys in the process and causing a deficiency of carbohydrates in the body. This can be damaging for the liver and can even destroy the muscle tissues.

Besides the ones listed above, other minor side effects resulting from incorrect intake of protein powder are - a feeling of nausea, general fatigue, weight loss, headaches and muscle cramps. Looking at the grave side effects of the protein powders, or for that matter, any other supplements, it can be concluded that a natural healthy diet is much more fruitful and effective. A balanced diet, which includes all the required nutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and fats, obtained from natural products, is the key to healthy living.

Protein Shakes Recipes

Protein shakes are absolutely fantastic when it comes to pre-workout or post-workout nutrition. The shake can be tailored to fit whatever your needs are, and with the right ingredients it could even taste great. The majority of them are Whey Protein Shake Recipes but there are a few that are based around Milk and Eggs as the protein source.

As for this list of shakes, what you will see are the ingredients. The actual process of making them is quite simple, and just involves putting everything in a blender and blitzing it for about 45 seconds. You can increase/decrease Ice into the mix until you get the consistency you like (thick or smooth).

Chocolate Whey Protein Shakes

The Best Protein Shake Ever


2 scoops Chocolate Whey Powder

10 Ice Cubes

12 oz. fat free milk

2 tblsp fat free vanilla yogart

1 tblsp reduced fat peanut butter

2 tblsp hazelnut coffee

1/8 cup caramel ice cream topping

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

2 scoops chocolate Whey Powder

2 Tbsp Whipping Cream (heavy cream, not cream out of a can)

1 Tbsp. Peanut Butter

12 oz. water

1 Tbsp. Flax Meal

4-6 ice cubes

Lean Mass Banana Split Shake

1/2 frozen banana (Banana Calories)

1 Tsp. banana extract

2 Tbsp. Whipping cream (heavy cream, not cream out of a can)

2 Scoops Chocolate (no carb) Whey Powder

10-12 oz water

4-6 ice cubes

Heavy Gainer

3 scoops chocolate Whey Powder

4 egg whites

1 tbls. Peanut Butter

8 oz. cold water

2 cups ice

Vanilla Whey Protein Shakes Recipes

Banana Bread Shake


2 scoops Vanilla Whey Powder

1 Banana

1/2 Cup Quaker Oatmeal (cook with boiling water)

3/4 Cup Kellogg's Bran Flakes

1 Bottle of Water

Sugar, Brown Sugar or Artificial Sweetener to taste

Banana Protein Shake


1 scoop Vanilla Whey Powder

1 medium to large banana

8 oz. light Soy Milk

1 TBSP Linseed, Soy and Almond Mixture

1 tsp Golden Syrup

Few drops vanilla essence/extract

3-4 cubes ice

1 TBSP low fat natural yoghurt

Orange Vanilla Shake


2 scoops Vanilla Whey Powder

8 oz. Orange Juice

4-5 ice cubes

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

½ banana

2-3 frozen strawberries

2 packets of sweetener

Egg Protein Shake Recipes

Egg-cellent Shake

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk or 3-4 scoops vanilla ice cream

Tropical Pleasure


8 oz. pure water

1/2 tsp. pineapple extract

1/2 tsp. coconut extract

1 tbs heavy cream

1/2 frozen banana

1 heaping scoop (1 oz) of Egg Protein

Stevia or Agave to taste (optional)

2-3 ice cubes (optional)

Egg-cellent Shake


3 eggs

1/2 cup milk or 3-4 scoops vanilla ice cream

Add all ingredients in blender. Blend and enjoy.

Milk based Protein Shake Recipes

Banana Almond Creme


1 Banana

12 Cup Milk

10 Almonds

1 Serving Protein

5 Ice Cubes

Chocolate Coffee Shake


Mix 2 scoops of Milk Chocolate Protein

1 cup of skim milk

5 ice cubes

1 cup of water

1 spoonful of instant coffee!

Peppermint Oatmeal Shake


Mix 2 scoops of Milk Chocolate Protein

1 cup sugar free vanilla ice cream

1 cup oatmeal

2 cups non-fat milk

1.2 cup water

a splash of peppermint extract!

Banana Almond Creme

1 Banana

12 Cup Milk

10 Almonds

1 Serving Protein

5 Ice Cubes

Other Source of Protein

Snickers® Protein Shake

3 Snickers® Bars

4 eggs

3 cups milk

2 tablespoons evaporated milk

Chop the candy into cubes. Add the milk, eggs, then mix; add the evaporated

milk and mix.

Butterfinger® Protein Shake

3 Butterfinger® Bars

4 eggs

3 cups milk

2 tablespoons evaporated milk

Chop the candy into cubes. Add the milk, eggs, then mix; add the evaporated

milk and mix.

Carnation Protein Shake


1 cup skim milk

2 tsp. safflower oil

Several pieces of ice

1 banana

1 package of Carnation Instant Breakfast (there's also a lo-carb mix)

Muscle Shake

1 c. lowfat milk

1/2 c. plain lowfat yogurt

1 banana, sliced

2 tbsp. Whey Powder

6 strawberries, sliced

1 tsp. wheat germ

1 tbsp. honey or maple syrup

1/4 c. natural berry juice

Pinch of nutmeg or carob powder

Orange And Cream Delight

1 Bottle of Orange Gatorade

1 packet vanilla meal replacer

Whey Powder Any Flavor

Mineral Power


10 oz. pure water

1 oz. liquid ionic plant source minerals

1 packet knox gelatin

1 tbs. flax seed oil

1 heaping scoop (1 oz) of protein of choice

Stevia or to taste (optional)

Weight Gainer

14 oz. pure water

2 bananas or 2 scoops YAM Power

3 tbs. peanut butter

6 drops liquid artificial sweetener (optional)

1 scoop of your choice of protein

Pineapple Power

1 cup of pineapple juice

3 strawberries

1 banana

1 teaspoon of yogurt

1 scoop of your choice of protein

Banana Delight


8 oz. pure water

1/2 banana (frozen)

2 oz. protein of choice

2 tsp. flax seed oil

Strawberry Cheesecake


10 oz pure water

8 frozen strawberries

4 tbs. low fat sour cream

10-15 drops liquid stevia (optional)

1.5 oz. protein of choice

Blueberry Dream


10 oz. Pure water

1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1.5 oz. protein of choice

2 tsp. flax seed oil

15 drops liquid stevia (optional)

Fat Burning Peaches and Cream


8 oz. pure water

1 ripe peach

2 tbs. low fat sour cream

8 drops liquid stevia (optional)

1.5 oz protein of choice

Protein Shakes Reviews

The following reviews have been selected:


Reason for taking: General Health & Wellness

Reviewer: 13-18 Male, 5/20/2011 8:34:46 PM


Im 18 years old and im very athletic. Iv been using whey protein for about a few months and that supplement along with my normal workout routines and water have led to massive results for me which really help when i have basketball games and so on.


Reason for taking: General Health & Wellness

Reviewer: short fat and bald, 45-54 Male, 9/8/2011 10:46:08 PM


noticed with in the first week better feeling joints, curb in appetite


Reason for taking: Other

Reviewer: skeptigal, 45-54 Female, 10/4/2010 8:23:59 AM


Using whey protein w/ Western meds and my own diet research, I no longer need new liver. I take one or two servings (25g protein/serving) of whey protein w/ BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) daily. It avoids the fat and is easy to digest. For me personally, my blood ammonia is a lot less than it was w/ meat or eggs. I have had TIPs (liver stent). I now take half the lactulose I used to. I had my MD take weekly blood ammonia readings while lowering my lactulose.


Reason for taking: Other

Reviewer: Norm Simpers Jr., 35-44 Male, 9/11/2010 2:16:37 AM


I suffered from IBS [Irritable Bowel Syndrome] for over 30 years! I finally BEAT my IBS quite by accident when I started [an exercise] program and bought some WHEY PROTEIN to help me [build muscles]. Strangely enough, I suddenly found myself having normal daily bowel movements WITHOUT pain or diarhea for the first time in over 30 years since turning 11 years old. Even after stopping my daily [exercise program] three months ago I am still having normal, pain free, diarhea free daily bowel movements so it was not the exercise that contributed to my beating IBS. I have advised others to try it and they have reported the same results as myself. I have no idea why it works, I just KNOW that it does for me and perhaps it will help you as well.... Good Luck and my greatest hope for you is that you too can FINALLY lead a normal life as I do now! Norman Simpers Jr. Conover NC


Reason for taking: Other

Reviewer: spicyhot, 75 or over Female, 12/12/2009 3:54:43 PM


Helped me get more protein rapidly as I have a problem getting nutrients from my food and also want to lose weight, and have some digestive problems, so am trying to find a way to get the protein I need without eating more food. Peanut butter on whole wheat bread works best when it comes to preventing my legs from swelling (edema) and in raising my enerty levels. The whey protein does seem to make me feel more tired. I am trying to find the right balance, and it isn't easy.

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